WHEN Mary Grant was born in 1916, the Wright brothers had completed their pioneering 12-second flight across North Carolina only 13 years earlier.
But now, for the first time in her life, Miss Grant is herself set to take to the skies – at the grand old age of 96.
Today she will fly the four-hour journey to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands to visit her granddaughter Sarah.
Wendy Zaidi, Miss Grant’s daughter, said: “Sarah came to stay in England a few weeks ago and mum said to her ‘I’ll come and see you next time’.
“I looked into it, we got everything sorted and we kept dropping hints to prepare her psychologically for flying for the first time.”
Miss Grant founded Mansditch Kennels in Catton Park in 1973. She still lives in a house in the kennel grounds but the business is today run my Mrs Zaidi and her husband Rob.
“I had to go down to the register office to get a copy of my mum’s birth certificate so we could apply for her first ever passport,” Mrs Zaidi said.
“Mum has always dedicated herself to looking after her dogs, so this will be a nice change for her.”
Miss Grant, who has three grandchildren and four great grandchildren, and Mrs Zaidi will fly from Birmingham Airport, stay for 10 nights and return to East Midlands Airport.
Mrs Zaidi said: “Mum is really looking forward to it. She keeps asking me ‘when are we going?’.
“I have packed some medication just in case she’s ill while we are there but, fingers crossed, we’ll have a wonderful trip.”
The plans were almost dealt a fatal blow when Miss Grant received a £600 travel insurance quote but, following some shopping around, this fell to £119.
“My husband Rob will be holding the fort at the kennels while we are away,” Mrs Zaidi said. “He’s caring for the kennels and I’m caring for my mother.
“And, barring any delays, everything sounds like it will run smoothly on the plane.
“Mum will be wheeled straight on to the plane. She’ll love all the attention.”
Miss Grant, who has a border terrier and a black Labrador as pets, has been involved in gun dog shows for many decades.
She once served at a pheasant shoot attended by the Queen and was invited to a Buckingham Palace garden party as thanks. “She’s always putting her dogs first, now she’s putting herself first for once,” Mrs Zaidi said.